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10 of the Best Food Festivals

Love a good day out? Love food? Try one of the UK’s finest outdoor edible events, as sampled by Stephanie Dobrijevic

Meatopia London

Put simply, this is any meat lover’s paradise. The three-day celebration of all things carnivorous fills London’s Tobacco Dock with the unmistakable aroma of charred meat, with stands churning out prime cuts grilled, smoked and seared every which way. Expect top-drawer goat shoulder from Sam Bryant, head chef at Coal Rooms and authentic Middle Eastern shawarma by Josh Katz of Berber & Q. A rotating roster of 25 chefs operate across the event, creating unique recipes for the festival. We’ll be in line for pulled pork from Smoke BBQ, sticky ribs from Low ‘N’ Slow and a burger from Patty & Bun. Pair these with a trip to Craftopia – a zone dedicated to quality beer. Meet ‘beermelier’ Melissa Cole and learn how to pair ale with barbecue food. Pay using the festival’s currency, Meatbucks (but remember these can’t be exchanged back at the end of the day). Head along Friday for the over-18s ‘late shift’.

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Travel Details

31 August - 2 September 2018

Entry from £24

Abergavenny Food Festival Abergavenny, Wales

Celebrating its 19th anniversary, the quaint market town of Abergavenny hosts the biggest food event in Wales, attracting some 30,000 visitors each year. Set against the picturesque Black Mountains, it has become a hotbed of creativity for home cooks looking for inspiration. Try a masterclass with Spanish maestro José Pizarro, whose stage demonstrations are full of anecdotes from his youth in Extremadura, best enjoyed over a glass of local Herefordshire cider. Scoot over to the newly opened cookery school in the castle where Skye McAlpine will be making recipes from her new cookbook, A Table in Venice. As the sun goes down, the castle hosts nightly parties. Listen to Cuban salsa band Son Yambu and enjoy tapas from Belazu, inspired by Mediterranean ingredients. When you’re done, head outside to watch the fireworks display – a perfect way to end a food-filled day.

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Travel Details

15-16 September 2018

Entry from £7

Dartmouth Food Festival Dartmouth

Having started from humble beginnings in 2002, this festival has grown in scale year-on-year and in 2018 Food and Travel is delighted to be national media partner, so pop by our stand and say ‘hello’. Taste the South West’s finest at an event overflowing with artisan produce and celebrity chefs. Start your day at the South Embankment, before crossing through the heart of the Royal Avenue Gardens and finishing in the old market, via 120 exhibitors, 75 per cent of which are local. Take your pick from all things epicurean, such as Sharpham Wine & Cheese, Salcombe Gin and plenty of quality fish and meat. Mitch Tonks, one of the UK’s most respected seafood chefs, returns to the stage, joined by Food and Travel writer Rosemary Barron and chef Mark Hix for cooking demos. Don’t miss the Eat Your Words forum, to discuss the ins and outs of the culinary world with some of the top names in the business.

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Travel Details

19-21 October 2018

Free entry

Edinburgh Food Festival Edinburgh

In the heart of Edinburgh sits the idyllic George Square gardens, which form the perfect backdrop to this five-day event. In July, the area transforms into a utopia of edible acts and is a culinary extension of the world-famous Fringe Festival. Spend the day with family and friends visiting pop-up restaurants and bars that represent Scotland’s incredible natural larder. Soak up the cheery atmosphere over Poco Prosecco as you select what to eat. Stalls to keep an eye out for include Alanda’s Scottish Seafood for local langoustines and The Crema Caravan, for its decadent crème brûlée. Inside the Piccolo Tent chefs will be demonstrating some of their favourite dishes, while producers will provide insight into Scotland’s food and drink heritage. Try savoury ice cream from Jannettas Gelateria, vintage beer at Fyne Ales and take part in the annual chilli-eating contest. Scoville scale aficionados only need apply.

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Travel Details

25-29 July 2018

Free entry

Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival Weymouth

Weymouth’s pretty 17th-century harbour is the perfect spot to host one of the UK’s most luxurious epicurean events. For a true taste of Dorset’s fishing heritage, take a bite from your choice of 90 seafood stalls before chowing down on our pick: crab cakes from Dorset Shellfish. As Britain’s largest free seafood festival, it’s a charitable event that raises money for the Fishermen’s Mission, supporting fishermen and their families across the country. Learn the philosophy behind sea- to-plate cuisine and the story of the Fishermen’s Mission before watching Neil Rankin – the legendary barbecue pitmaster at the helm of London’s Temper restaurants – experiment with bold, chilli-laced flavours. End the day watching boats sail by as the sun sets. A festival essential is to slurp oysters washed down with a glass of fizz, courtesy of the event’s sponsor, Champagne Pommery.

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Travel Details

14-15 July 2018

Free entry

The Big Feastival Chipping Norton

Founded by Jamie Oliver and former Blur bassist turned-cheesemaker Alex James in 2010, this three-day soirée takes place on James’s farm in the heart of the Cotswolds. A stellar line-up of chefs including Marco Pierre White, Nathan Outlaw and Raymond Blanc is complemented by contemporary music acts Craig David and Clean Bandit, who play slots throughout the day. Street-food stalls burst with delicious smells and aromatic flavours, but if you’re a fan of fromage, a visit to The Cheese Bar is a must. Try its justly famous grilled cheese sandwich packed with Cropwell Bishop Stilton, bacon and pear chutney – it’s an absolute belter. Want to make a weekend of it? Then head to the glamping village and hire out a boutique yurt or bell tent. With a private cocktail bar, pamper parlour and kids’ cinema tent, it’s a luxury experience that we are happy to pitch up to.

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Travel Details

24-26 August 2018

Entry from £69

Powderham Food Festival Powderham

Housed in the grounds of spectacular Powderham Castle, near Exeter, this enchanting estate invites visitors to meander through the countryside while being introduced to fine Devonshire food and drink. Brimming with all things edible, you’ll savour street food, discover artisan produce and learn tips from the pros. Hosted by barbecue legends Simon Dyer, Marcus Bawdon and John Gower, the perennially popular Theatre of Fire and Smoke will be returning for another year with tips, hints and tricks for cooking over coals. Freshly caught fish from the local Exe Estuary and venison from Powderham’s ancient Deer Park – first depicted on a map in 1723 – is smoked in big brown tepees for the event’s show- stopping finale. Food and Travel has also got a stand here, so be sure to stop by and see us. There might even be a glass of bubbly in it for you if you’re a subscriber, too.

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Travel Details

6-7 October 2018

Entry from £9

The Garlic Festival Sandown

Set among the rolling hills and farmland just outside of Newchurch on the Isle of Wight, this festival celebrates all things allium. Marquees are dotted around the venue championing all manner of unlikely pairings: garlic with fudge, garlic ice cream and garlic popcorn, to name but a few. Plenty of beer tents are on hand to assist in washing them down. Some of the more unusual products we particularly rate include a surprisingly slurpable garlic slammer – a raw garlic clove wrapped in prosciutto and washed down with a shot of IW Distillery Rock Sea Vodka. New for this year is the theatre kitchen, where the island’s finest chefs will be showcasing dishes from their restaurants and teaching you how to recreate them at home. Television chef Valentine Warner will be returning to the stage to create garlic-imbued recipes, which he will be cooking over charcoal fire-pits.

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Travel Details

18-19 August 2018

Entry from £10

Food Rocks Lyme Regis

Launched six years ago by legendary British chef Mark Hix, this festival is a celebration of his West Dorset hometown and the rich array of produce available here. In order to show off some of his top suppliers, Hix created an event where locals can support their farmers and those in the food industry. Watch demos from Lympstone Manor’s Michael Caines and bread master Richard Bertinet from The Bertinet Kitchen, before trying Persian wraps from Open Sesame and organic cheese from De Luca Mozzarella. Enjoy a glass of Dorset Orchards cider or a gin and tonic from Dorset’s first gin distiller, Conker. In the evening, book a seat at the new Glenarm Estate Beef Supper Club, where Hix will be celebrating the estate’s meat over a five-course feast. All profits raised on the night and at the event will be donated to the RNLI and the Fishermen’s Mission.

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Travel Details

8-9 September 2018

Free entry

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival Aldeburgh

Paying homage to Suffolk’s flourishing food scene, Aldeburgh is now one of the most hotly anticipated food events in the UK. Reed-covered marshlands in the distance provide the setting beside the River Alde, where over 100 producers gather at the beautiful setting of Snape Maltings to showcase the very best of East Anglia. Suffolk’s lush countryside has all the ingredients for a home-grown feast and the main focus of the show is to celebrate the abundance and variety of crops and livestock available. Henrietta Inman’s tempting pop-up patisserie and beef from Salter & King are two of our top picks for roving eaters. Visit the Wild Suffolk area to try foraged food, including some superbly gamey pigeon burgers. After the festival, two weeks of Fringe events follow, which include farm walks, exclusive dinners at local restaurants and meet and greets with Suffolk producers.

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Travel Details

29-30 September 2018

Entry from £8

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